For a Sick Prayer Meeting

HAS your prayer meeting been a bit anemic lately? The secret for bringing it back into good health may lie in the Sabbath school. . .

HAS your prayer meeting been a bit anemic lately? The secret for bringing it back into good health may lie in the Sabbath school.

Have you ever had the privilege of sit ting in a Sabbath school class so well taught that everyone groaned slightly when the second bell rang? Did you have the feeling that the class was the high light of the entire Sabbath service? Why not ex tend this pleasant experience on into the midweek prayer meeting?

Ellen G. White indicates the ideal prayer meeting is: "spiritual and social," "lively and interesting," and that "formality . . . should be laid aside" (Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 579; vol. 1, p. 146; vol. 2, p. 578). I would like to venture a guess as to one reason why you enjoyed that Sabbath school class so much. It was because you had a chance to participate personally. We live in an age when almost everyone wants a piece of the dialog. What our people do not necessarily need on Wednesday night is another full-dress sermon. Now for the plan. Why not begin by taking a survey among the church members to find out what topics they are particularly interested in, and what their real needs might be? Then each week assign one of these topics in advance, so that participants can do some reading and thinking ahead of time.

The meeting itself should start on time even though only two persons may be present. A single song is sung, and a brief prayer offered. The session is not held in the sanctuary, but in a room where chairs can be placed in a circle facing one an other. A preassigned layman introduces the subject with a five-minute opener, and the discussion is under way. The pastor's only duty is to keep things moving, and to see that one or two people do not completely monopolize the conversation. He may also want to make a two-minute summary at the close.

Remember that Sabbath school class? Forty-five minutes from the time the meeting began, while the discussion is still at its peak, ring that "second bell." Don't let things run their course, become boring, or die down. Quit while everyone's appetite is still unsated, so that they will be back next week for more.

The last fifteen minutes could be spent in prayer and closing formalities. In Testimonies, volume two, page 578, Sister White suggests that a season of prayer should be no more than ten minutes in length. Those who pray on and on are "prayer meeting killers." Have the courage to deal with such individuals in a private and tactful way. Vary this final portion from time to time by allowing participants to testify to the Lord's goodness. And don't forget a one-minute appetizer concerning next week's discussion.

The Spirit of Prophecy states that "prayer meetings should be the most interesting gatherings that are held" (ibid., vol. 4, p. 70). Why not try this prescription and see if it doesn't do something to build your Wednesday night attendance?

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August 1970

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